On Tuesday, May 15, residents all across our reader areas will head to the polls to vote for their school district budget and board of trustee candidates. In some cases, there’ll be another proposition on the ballot to decide on, such as a bond. The whole process takes roughly about 15 minutes or so, depending on how close one resides to the polling location, or once there, how long it takes to find a parking space. Yet, past returns indicate that only a small percentage of people turn out at the polls. Why aren’t more people voting?
Over the past few weeks, local districts have held budget workshops for residents to learn what this year’s budget numbers represent. The school districts snail mail newsletters about the budget to all homeowners and also post them online. Community-based organizations have been holding Meet the Candidates nights, where residents have an opportunity to speak to those running about what their visions are for the district. The candidates get to listen to concerns, too. That’s important because if elected, they’ll be representing the interests of the taxpayers in addition to students and school personnel.
This newspaper has posted the overall budgets for each district and the impact it would have on school taxes. In addition, we’ve reached out to all of the candidates and highlighted those that responded. The public has a lot of information upon which they could base their decision. Now all they have to do is exercise that right on Super Tuesday.
Look, reaching a school budget is a convoluted process, where even with state aid the numbers must be well thought out and reflect the needs of the district while upholding the imposed New York cap. District trustees have a huge responsibility to maintain that balance while keeping an eye on curriculum, school policy, safety, infrastructure and a number of other factors that need to be considered in this voluntary position.
Remember that your school district is perhaps the most important asset that determines the value of your home. So why not protect your investment?
Do your part—get out and vote!
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